We Have Five Years To Save Ourselves From Climate Change, Harvard S...

Harvard professor James Anderson warns that our window to avoid hurtling into Eocene-like conditions is five years -- and cutting carbon emissions won't be enough.

… carbon now in the atmosphere … is rapidly pushing the climate back to its state in the Eocene Epoch, more than 33 million years ago, when there was no ice on either pole.

"We have exquisite information about what that state is, because we have a paleo record going back millions of years, when the earth had no ice at either pole. There was almost no temperature difference between the equator and the pole," said James Anderson, a Harvard University professor of atmospheric chemistry ...

"The ocean was running almost 10ºC warmer all the way to the bottom than it is today, and the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere would have meant that storm systems would be violent in the extreme..."

"The chance that there will be any permanent ice left in the Arctic after 2022 is essentially zero," Anderson said,…

He argued Thursday the physical sciences should take responsibility for preventing environmental catastrophe

At universities, that means linking the study of physical sciences with global issues like climate change, with government ethics, public policy, and other relevant practices.

Recovery is all but impossible, he argued, without a World War II-style transformation of industry—an acceleration of the effort to halt carbon pollution and remove it from the atmosphere, and a new effort to reflect sunlight away from the earth's poles. … within the next five years. [emphasis mine, order changed]

James Anderson suggests that the physical sciences must become interdisciplinary with respect to climate science, taking a systems perspective in which politics and government are no longer ignored. I see this as part of maturing collectively, transforming every aspect of society for sustainability.

The IPCC wasn't just coerced into dangerously conservative practice by fossil fuel nations, in my view. The traditional hard science assumption that data from your field is all that matters, with the rest of society  presumed as stable and irrelevant, no longer holds. Climate scientists could not have predicted that Putin would hack the DNC and the billion dollar/year climate denier industry then spin Climategate from it. Yet those actions bent the trajectory of  collective climate action. If humanity is to survive, "government ethics, public policy, and other relevant practices" must be incorporated into our climate scenarios. Each of us must connect our climate expectations with present political realities. Isolating academic study from everyday politics, since the founding of scientific inquiry, has been a warm safe incubator. Civilization teeters now on the existential brink, with a planet-wide multi-disciplinary perspective essential to grasp our reality.

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Replies to This Discussion

"If humanity is to survive:"

*incorporate 'government ethics, public policy, and other relevant practices'  into our climate scenarios.

* connect our climate expectations with present political realities,

* coordinate academic study with everyday politics.




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